Net Impact Fellow, Sarah is Providing Healthier Food Options in Rochester, New York.
In this blog series we are profiling our Net Impact Fellows; from healthy food to racial equity our fellows in this year-long leadership development program are working to better their campuses and their communities.
Sarah is a Net Impact Healthy Food Fellow and the Co-Founder of Oasis Foods, a social enterprise that provides affordable pre-prepared, frozen meals through vending machines, gas stations, and grocery stores in their local community.
Learn more of her journey to becoming an advocate for healthy food in her community.
Why did you first decide to take action around healthy food?
Oasis Foods was born from an Urban Entrepreneurship class at Simon Business School. My teammates and I were tasked with finding a business solution to the poverty plaguing Rochester, NY. We knew that lack of access to and education around healthy food was a huge issue in the urban areas of our city. We also knew that students faced limited healthy food options on campus, especially after hours. Our one-for-one model was born!
Can you tell us more about your action project?
Oasis Foods sells nutritious prepared frozen and refrigerated meals via vending machines. This allows us to access food deserts to provide a healthy food option where one doesn’t currently exist. We are currently in the middle of launching our pilot on the University of Rochester campus and the UR Medical Center.
How did you know this was the right project for you to work on?
We talked a lot with folks in the Rochester community about our project as we were developing it, and the problem really resonated with people. I knew the statistics were dramatic but seeing people express excitement and hope over our project was what really convinced me this needed to be done.
How does this fellowship differ from or complement your school coursework?
The fellowship allows me to meet and collaborate with students from outside my college, which is something that doesn’t happen as often as it should.
Have you thought about how your project could be continued after you're finished with your fellowship?
Yes! The pilot will give us a sense of if they project could work at a larger scale. I’ll be moving to Detroit for my job after graduation, and I can just envision us opening a branch of Oasis there.
What is your biggest take away from the experience?
Don’t forget the resources right in front of you. The fellows are inspiring and the help that Net Impact has provided is amazing. The program is well structured and I feel supported throughout.
What advice would you give to someone launching their own project at school?
Just do it! It’s easy to get caught up in analysis and planning, but you learn the most by just getting out there and getting things done. And don’t be afraid to fail. Find support from your campus community and start with small-scale experiments so you can test new ideas with less risk.
Thank you to the Newman's Own Foundation for sponsoring Net Impact's Healthy Food Fellowship. To learn more about Net Impact's Fellowships please see here.